Helicobacter pylori causing stomach disease is abundant in saliva, tartar, gastric mucosa of patients, and is spread to healthy people mainly through eating and drinking.
Statistics from the Vietnam Association for Gastroenterology (VNAGE) show that over 80% of our population is infected with Helicobacter pylori (HP). This is the leading cause of stomach – duodenum diseases, including stomach cancer.
According to Dr. Truong Hieu Nghia, Professional Advisor of Daisy General Clinic, HP bacteria are very easily transmitted through the digestive tract. HP infection is one of the most common chronic bacterial infections in humans. It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population has been infected with this bacteria, most in developing countries due to poor sanitation, contaminated water and food. HP causes many diseases of the stomach – duodenum such as digestive disorders, gastritis, peptic ulcers.
Medical studies have shown that HP is abundant in saliva, tartar plaque, gastric mucosa of patients, and is spread to healthy people mainly through eating and drinking. One of the reasons leading to the high rate of HP infection in our community is due to the habit of eating together.
Normally, when eating, Vietnamese people always have the habit of dipping a cup of sauce together, using their chopsticks to pick up food for others to show hospitality. Some people even use chopsticks to “swish” one piece after another on the shared plate before picking up a satisfactory piece. On the drinking table, many people also give a glass to others to take a sip to show their friendship or share a glass of wine.
This eating habit seems intimate, but it is the fastest way for HP bacteria to enter the body. In addition, the preference for eating in unhygienic sidewalk restaurants increases the risk of HP infection, even hepatitis A.
To limit HP infection in the community, Dr. Nghia advised, first of all, everyone should practice personal hygiene and avoid eating together. If possible, use separate meals, especially dipping sauces. If the dish must be shared, a clean shared spoon should be placed in it. When using individual chopsticks, avoid letting the chopsticks touch the rest of the food, grab it quickly and decisively, without swinging. Do not share drinking glasses of water or alcohol to ensure hygiene for yourself and others. Practice washing hands with soap before eating, not licking saliva when counting money, flipping paper…
According to doctors, HP bacteria can be detected and treated early. Usually the disease is detected when there are clinical symptoms or through periodic physical examination. Therefore, maintaining the habit of annual health check is the most effective way to screen for HP. Don’t wait until you have serious symptoms of stomach disease to go to the doctor, the definitive treatment will become more difficult.
The simplest HP test method is a blood test. This method shows if you have ever been exposed to HP bacteria (within 6 months) by looking for antibodies. If someone has obvious stomach symptoms such as pain, indigestion, frequent heartburn, stool tests can be done immediately for HP antigen. In case of positive results, it proves that HP is present and causing disease. At that time, additional FOB testing is needed to see if there are bleeding lesions in the gastrointestinal tract.
For people with risk factors and age, the doctor appoints a gastroscopy to detect stomach cancer or not, and at the same time make an accurate diagnosis of HP infection.
Doctors also advise not to worry too much because not all HP entering the body will cause disease. Bacteria need to have a “landing ground” that is damage in the stomach such as congestive gastritis, existing ulcers, to be able to attach and cause disease. In the case of a healthy stomach and duodenum, HP enters and then goes out according to the body’s natural elimination mechanism.
According to Dr. Nghia, it is necessary to practice the habit of eating slowly, chewing thoroughly, and avoiding stress to prevent risk factors for HP bacteria to exist and cause disease. If you have a close relative (parent, sibling, or child) with stomach cancer, you have a higher risk of developing stomach cancer. At that time, it is necessary to be vigilant not to let yourself be infected with HP.
“These cases need periodic screening to detect HP early. Once infected, it is necessary to undergo eradication treatment to prevent future complications of stomach cancer,” advised Dr. Hieu Nghia.
Dr. Hieu Nghia noted that not all cases of HP infection cause stomach cancer, but in gastric cancer lesions, HP bacteria often appear. The existence of HP in the body, if not detected early, will affect health in the long run.